Issue 254 — Florida In My Rearview Mirror

Issue 254    The Paregien Journal    —    April 12, 2012

Florida In My Rearview Mirror

by Stan Paregien Sr.

Hello, again.

Wow, the last few weeks have been unbelievably busy for Peggy and for me. We’re supposed to be “retired,” but it sure doesn’t feel that way most of the time.

Peggy and I flew from Oklahoma City to Tampa, Florida back on Thursday, January 19, 2012. We went there to spend some six days with her sister, Charlotte (“The Elder”) Allen Richardson, and her husband Bill. They picked us up at the airport and we drove to their newly acquired winter home at a nice mobile home retirement village on the south side of Sarasota.

There is a whole nest of snowbird Yankees living there who all regularly go to church with Bill and Charlotte back in Indianapolis, Indiana. So they have a lot of fun together.

                  

Stan, Peggy, Bill & Charlotte in Sarasota, FL

The first full day we were there the Richardsons took us to the Ringling Mansion & Museum on the north side of Sarasota. We spent three or four hours there, but never even got inside of the very large art museum on the property. What we did see, though, was very informative and beautiful.

We took the ground floor tour of the huge mansion that circus man John Ringling and his wife built on the edge of the bay. It was spectacular in every way, and we were more than impressed at their ornate architecture and over-the-top styles of furniture and decor.

Next, we spent some time looking at and sniffing at the great variety of roses in the Ringling rose garden. All of this was done under a clear blue sky and about 75 degrees. Ah, . . . so very nice.

Then, after a nice lunch in the small cafeteria on the grounds, we spent a couple of hours in the circus museum portion of the estate. The first part, of course, mainly dealt with artifacts from and the history of the Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus. Sarasota was their winter headquarters for many, many years. The movie “The Greatest Show on Earth” starring Charlton Heston and James Stewart gives a pretty good inside view of the circus, and some of it was shot right there in Sarasota.

The final thing there at the Ringling Estate was the museum of miniatures. Yeah, I know, I wasn’t too impressed by the prospect. But the reality was quite astonishing and spellbinding. Really. A gentleman named Mr. Howard spent some 20 hours a week for about twenty years of his life creating all of the thousands of miniatures that it took to give an aerial view, as it were, of the large, fictitious “Howard Circus”. As you enter you begin a walk in a very long circle showing what it was like for a large circus to roll into a town and set up for business.

You had the main circus tents, of course, and then dozens of smaller tents around the perimeter for the blacksmiths, the horses, the dressing rooms for the hundreds of performers and workers, their own cafeteria where they served nearly 4,000 meals a day, and on and on . . . and on and on. And all of this was filled with miniatures made to scale by Mr. Howard – camels, elephants, visitors, railroad cars, rolling cages for the lions and tigers, and trucks loaded with equipment, along with dozens of railroad cars.

Wow. It was really an eye-opening and captivating display. So the moral of that story is to go gentle on that “pre-judging” business. I liked it a lot and would highly recommend you see it if you’re in the area.

I have to tell you, though, I picked up what I thought was a “head cold” or some such on Sunday, January 22nd. We returned home on Tuesday, the 24th, and I was soon coughing my head off and having to sleep in my recliner at night to get any sleep at all. And it wasn’t much.

So I went to my doctor on that Friday and he said I had bronchitis. Sounds like something you’d get from a horse, huh? Bronc . . . oh, never mind. So he started treating me for that.

By the following Monday I was about twice as bad off. Miserable. So I went back and my doc checked me and took an x-ray. My “head cold” had shot right past the bronchitis and it was . . . ta dah .  . . pneumonia.

Yuk. Let me tell you, pneumonia is a nasty business for people of any age. And for old geezers it can be deadly. So my doc loaded me up with prescriptions and sent me home in care of our family nurse (Peggy).

I learned from reading WebMD.com that a fairly high number of people over 65 who get pneumonia actually get it because they accidentally swallow a piece of food into their windpipe/lungs. I don’t know how I got it, but this is the third time in my life that I’ve had it.

Anyway, through all of February and part of March I did not felt like writing much.  I’m about 99 percent healed, at this point, and felling much, much better.

AGING

The ever-popular Beach Boys singing group performed at the Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 12, 2012. Then they embarked on their 50th anniversary tour. TV comedian and talk show host Conan O’Brien said, “Now when they sing about surfing, they mean surfing the Internet for discounted prostate medication.”

MY NEW E-BOOK

I’m glad to be able to announce the recent posting on Amazon.com of my latest Kindle e-book. It is titled, Rootin’ Tootin’ Cowboy Poetry: 100 Poems That’ll Make You Laugh, Cry and Think. It has 155 pages of poems and illustrations, most in color, and sells for just $2.99.

 Among these 100 poems are such crowd-pleasing favorites as “Ben’s New Filly,” “The Coyote Hunt,” “Christmas Delight,” “A Tribute to Roy Rogers,” “Ode to Identical Twins,” “The Cowboy and the Cougar,” “The Big Surprise,” “The Wet Sinner,” “Montana Cowboy Earmuffs,” “The Cowboy and the Lady,” “Bullet and Cousin Clem,” “The Cowboy’s Bandana,” “The Parrot and the Cowboy,” “The Cowboy’s Sermon to His Preacher,” “The Raven,” and “A Tribute to Gene Autry.”

Now here’s a terrific deal. For five days, running from 12:01 am on Friday, April 13th to 11:59 pm on Tuesday, April 17th, you may download this e-book and read it FOR FREE. That’s right, absolutely free. You will need a Kindle Reader, but you may download the reader for free to your Iphone, KindleFire, or your personal computer.  Pretty nifty, huh? The only thing is . . this free offer does not come with a free set of Ginsu knives. Give it a try, anyway, if you would please.

NEW YOUTUBE VIDEOS

Just today I uploaded two new videos to my YouTube account (“Cowboy Stan”). Each is totally different from the other, and I think you’ll enjoy both of them.

The first clip is titled “Rwandan Students Dance and Sing”. It is a film that I took in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 21, 2012. The Rwandan government selects 10 to 12 of their brightest students in the whole country for Presidential Scholarships. These highly competitive awards provide for four years of tuition and room and board at Oklahoma Christian University. After a few years of being in place, there are now 75 or so Rwandan students current enrolled at Oklahoma Christian.

So . . . the film is of several of those young male and female Presidential Scholars singing a traditional Rwandan song and performing in costume a dance to that music. They are also involved in a wonderful program called Rwandas4Water which raises money to go to the rural areas of Rwanda and create wells with safe drinking water.

You’ll find it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohSB99hYy5M  Or just do a search on YouTube for “Paregien”.

The second video is a hilarious knee-slapper, roll-in-the-aisles song. You remember the cowboy classic “Ghost Riders in the Sky”? Well, years ago someone wrote a parody to it titled, “Ghost Chickens in the Sky.” I filmed old friends Peggy Coleman and Roger “Big Chick” Ringer  (both members of the Western Music Association) performing it at the Pawnee Bill Ranch in Pawnee, Oklahoma on March 31, 2012. We were all there for a meeting of the Cowboy Storyteller Association of the Western Plains.

You’ll find that video at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FumJeMggFI&list=UUHxdwN4NzRpIviKau23bi1w&index=1&feature=plcp

Peggy and I took three of our Rwandan friends with us to Pawnee for the day. And they were quite interested in the Pawnee Bill (i.e., Gordon Lilly) Ranch, museum and mansion. And they got a nice introduction to cowboy culture during the CSAWP meeting.

Time to saddle up and say adios  (heck, you didn’t even know I was fluent in French, did ya?).

–Stan

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